Woolworths scores for sustainability

19 September 2011

South African retailer Woolworths, as well as making it onto the Dow Jones Sustainability Index, has been named one of the sustainability champions of the developing world in a report by the World Economic Forum.

‘Sustainability champions’

The report, issued by the World Economic Forum and the Boston Consulting Group, highlights sustainable and innovative business practices from companies in emerging markets.

Over a thousand companies worldwide were assessed on the basis of sustainability, innovation, scalability, geography and size. Of the 16 companies that met the criteria, Woolworths was one of only three in Africa, and is also the only retailer to make the list.

According to the report, sustainability champions are benchmarked against their peers and demonstrate superior performance, mastering innovation and excelling in cost-effective solutions that address resource constraints.

They also turn challenges into scalable opportunities and develop robust models for growth, placing environmental and social sustainability at the core of their operations and culture.

“Woolworths has long held a deep commitment to sustainability, which we formalised in 2007 with the launch of our Good business journey,” Woolworths CEO Ian Moir said in a statement last week.

Dow Jones Sustainability Index

Launched in 1999, the Dow Jones Sustainability Index (DJSI) is the first global index tracking the financial performance of the leading sustainability-driven companies worldwide.

Based on the cooperation of Dow Jones Indexes and SAM (a global investment boutique focused exclusively on sustainable investing), the index provides asset managers with reliable and objective benchmarks to manage sustainability portfolios.

The DJSI follows a best-in-class approach, including companies across all industries that outperform their peers in numerous sustainability metrics. Each year, SAM invites the world’s 2 500 largest companies, measured by free-float market capitalisation, from the 57 sectors to report on their sustainability performance.

Woolworths, making it to the index for the first time, is the only South African retailer and one of only five South African companies to be listed on the DJSI.

“We have made substantial progress over the past four and a half years, and sustainability remains a key aspect of our business strategy and a commitment that our staff, our suppliers and our customers share,” said Moir.

“Through initiatives such as Farming for the Future, our energy and water efficiency programmes and the development of small-scale suppliers, we are creating shared value for our stakeholders.”

SAinfo reporter

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